Reason for optimism with Tim Lincecum?

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The Giants continue to exhibit patience with Tim Lincecum, despite his season-long struggles. While he still owns a 6.07 ERA and remains winless since April 28, he at least showed some signs of turning things around last night against the Athletics.

Lincecum was on the ropes in the first inning, giving up three runs on three singles and two walks before recording an out. Things could have been much worse, but he struck out Brandon Moss, Kurt Suzuki and Cliff Pennington (all swinging strikeouts) with the bases loaded to escape.

It didn’t look like Lincecum would last very long after throwing 44 pitches in the first inning, but he was efficient and effective the rest of the way, holding the A’s hitless over his final five innings of work while issuing two walks. He ended up allowing three runs over six innings for just his second “quality start” of the season and his first since May 30. The eight strikeouts tied a season-high. Despite being in a early three-run hole, the Giants came back to win the game 5-4.

CSNBayArea.com has the video of Lincecum’s post-game comments, where he expressed optimism about his ability to build off of his strong performance following the first inning jam.

A-Rod to join ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball booth

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Alex Rodriguez’s post-retirement renaissance continues apace. After starring as a studio host for Fox’s playoff coverage over the past couple of years, A-Rod is about to be named to, arguably, televised baseball’s top job: color commentary in ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball booth.

Michael McCarthy of The Sporting News is hearing that ESPN is going to give the gig, vacated by Aaron Boone by virtue of his hiring by the Yankees, to Rodriguez. There he’ll join Jessica Mendoza and whoever they get to replace play-by-play man Dan Shulman, who chose to step back from the Sunday night job following last season. This, by the way, marks the second time A-Rod has taken over Aaron Boone’s job given that he replaced Boone at third base for the Yankees in 2004.

The twist: A-Rod is likely to keep his Fox postseason job too. While some broadcasters work for multiple networks, it’s pretty rare for Fox to allow its talents to work for competitors like that. Apparently they believe keeping A-Rod — who five years ago was one of the most despised figures in baseball — is worth it. What a difference a few years makes.

In other news, Alex Rodriguez is likely to be shunned mightily by the current crop of BBWAA voters when he hits the Hall of Fame ballot in a couple of years. At the rate he’s going, though, their successors will put him in Cooperstown via the Ford Frick Award sometime in the 2040s.